By Peter Lim
When two ridiculously talented southpaws, both ranked in every current top 10 pound-for-pound list, face each other in the ring, it is undoubtedly a super showdown. Throw in the fact that it is the first time in the history of the sport that a pair of two-time Olympic gold medalists will pit their wits against each other and ‘super showdown’ might actually be an understatement. It’s a crying shame that virtually nobody outside the boxing world will pay much attention to this once-in-a-lifetime collision course.
Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) and Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) represent the epitome of the new generation of fighters who, courtesy to stellar amateur careers, have been able to bypass palooka and journeymen competition and dive straight into the deep waters of fighting gatekeepers, contenders and even titleholders from the get go. Naoya Inouye, Artur Beterbiev, Dimitri Bivol and Anthony Joshua are among other members of that generation.
A gold medalist at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, Lomachenko fought for a world title in his second pro bout, losing narrowly by split decision. He won a 126-pound title in his next fight and by his sixth outing, he became a two-division titleholder at 130. Rigondeaux, who struck gold at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, became a 122-pound world title holder in his ninth fight and, three fights later, partially unified the championship by defeating a fellow titleholder.
Lomachenko’s previous opponents represent a far better gauge as to how he will fare against Rigondeaux than vice versa. Like Rigondeaux, Gary Russell Jr. was a slick, speedy counter-punching southpaw, and Nicholas Walters loosely resembled a right-handed version of the Cuban. Lomachenko easily defeated both.
Rigondeaux, on the other hand, has never encountered a southpaw style even vaguely reminiscent of the Ukrainian’s. But his best opponent to date, Nonito Donaire, who was ranked among the best pound-for-pound fighters at that time, and except for suffering the first knockdown of his career, he outclassed and dominated Donaire.
Will it be Holmes-Spinks I or II?
The outcome of this this good-big-man-versus-good-little-man showdown ultimately boils down to which fighter will be first to the punch, dictate the tempo, control the action and get the better of the exchanges. Either way, it will play out like a miniature, southpaw version of Larry Holmes’ and Michael Spinks’ two epic collision courses in the ‘80s.
Like Spinks, Rigondeaux will be rising two divisions to fight Lomachenko. Eight pounds at super featherweight, after all, is about as significant a size advantage as the roughly 20 pounds Holmes had on Spinks at heavyweight.
Holmes-Spinks 1 was fought on Spinks’ terms as he tactically swash-buckled, flurried and frustrated Holmes en route to a historical upset. In the rematch, Holmes turned the chess board into a prison yard and used his superior size to bulldoze, bully and buckle Spinks, winning 11 of 15 rounds only to be robbed on the scorecards in one of the worst travesties in the history of the sport.
Should Rigondeaux be able to utilize his savvy, accuracy and timing to the max, he will be faster on the draw, fluster Lomachenko and neutralize his firepower by punching between the bigger man’s punches. And if he can keep it up for the duration of the fight, as Spinks did in his first encounter with Holmes, accolades will rain down upon him for pulling off a masterful David-versus-Goliath feat.
But if the larger-framed Lomachenko can utilize his superior size and strength to move Rigondeaux around and walk through his punches, like Holmes did to Spinks in the rematch, he should win the majority of the rounds and maybe even score a knockdown or two along the way. In this case scenario, provided the judges are not as inept and/or corrupt as those who decided Holmes Spinks II, Lomachenko should win comfortably.
Originally published at: http://houstonboxing.blogspot.com/2017/12/lomachenko-vs-rigondeaux-historical.html